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Government Transparency Regarding HIV Infection and Anti-Black Stereotyping

Thomas Craemer and Frank Priepke
JHHSA, Vol. 44 No. 1, 1-29 (2021)

According to Fung’s (2013) ideal of democratic transparency, the public should use government-issued online information to hold government accountable. Limited cognitive accessibility, however, may lead members of the public instead to judge each other – especially African Americans – in stereotype-consistent ways. Using a behavioral approach to public administration (Grimmelikhuijsen et al., 2017), we investigate perceptual biases that may compromise the comprehension of CDC information about HIV prevalence among African Americans. We experimentally demonstrate that the most common data presentation formats lead to significant over-estimates of HIV prevalence among African Americans and associated risk assessments. Further, they increase anti-Black stereotyping in domains that are unrelated to HIV, namely derogatory perceptions of African Americans as supposedly “more lazy” than Whites, “less intelligent,” and more “prone to criminal violence.” We propose proportional scaling as a simple solution to the way the CDC in the United States, and UNAIDS globally, publish HIV prevalence information.

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